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Issue 1465 April 22, 2012
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Magician Tommy Anderson entertains kids and keeps them laughing at the 2nd Annual Great Start Day at the Zoo.

Great Start Collaborative Fills the Zoo with Fun and Information

April 22, 2012       Leave a Comment
By: Stephanie Meyer

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A little cool weather and rain did nothing to curb the attendance at the 2nd Annual Great Start Day at the Zoo. The free event included admission, carousel and train rides, and lots of live entertainment for all and attracted families as far away as Genesee, Gladwin, and Tuscola Counties.

With the final numbers reaching 3,500 attendees, up from 2,400 last year, Elizabeth Shepherd, Coordinator for the Great Start Collaborative of Bay County, says, "it was the biggest event ever hosted by the Children's Zoo at Celebration Square" and attributed the increase to more advertising and word of mouth from past attendees.

Grandmother, Joan Premo, and grandaughter, Aleigh Premo, 4, enjoy the free face painting.

Papa John's Mr. Slice and SVSU's Cardinal attracted a crowd during a basketball shoot out.

The event was hosted to bring families and over 30 agencies and businesses together so that people can understand the large number of services that are available to them. Some of the agencies represented included booths from each of the three Great Start Collaboratives, Saginaw County Parks and Recreation, YMCA Camp Timbers, Mid-Michigan Children's Museum, Saginaw County Birth-5, the CAN Council, Kinder Kare Centers, MSU Extension, and

Holly Karbowski, Co-Coordinator for the Midland County Great Start Collaborative Program, manned the transport of roughly 140 people from Midland County on Mitchell Coach buses that would have not been able to make it because of transportation issues. "Not only was this a great way for families to have fun together who might not be able to afford going to the zoo, but it provided them access to agencies they may not have accessed before," says Karbowski, "Some of the kids had never even been to the zoo before."

Shepherd also shared the positive sentiments of the event. "It was wonderful! People were so appreciative, courteous and just happy to be there," she said, "It is just a family friendly activity and it is very gratifying for us."

Mid-Michigan Child Care Centers had a booth making silly hats out of newspaper.

Nola Leinaar explains the services of the MSU Extension-Bay County.

Hillary Hagemeyer and had their first experience at the event with their bubble booth.

Another fun, free family event to mark on your calendar is the 5th Annual FREEMUSIC FEST on June 9th at the Tittabawassee Township Park in Freeland. Admission to the music festival and art show is free and will include local bands, vendors, and children's activities. For you disc golf enthusiasts, there will be a charity tournament before the fair with all proceeds going to the Great Start Collaborative from all three counties that will support the scholarship program providing pre-school for three year-olds.

For more information on the Great Start Collaborative specifically of Bay County, you can call (989)667-3280. For additional information on the FREEMUSIC FEST, you can check out the website at

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